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Fifth Disease (Erythema Infectiosum)


Picture of fifth disease (erythema infectiosum)

Illustration copyright 2000 by Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.nucleusinc.com

Fifth disease is sometimes called "slapped-cheek disease" because of the rash that some people get on the face.

If a rash appears, usually it has two or three distinct stages:

  1. A bright red rash occurs on the sides of the face and sometimes on the forehead and chin. This rash usually is gone within 5 days.
  2. Another rash appears on the neck, trunk, forearms, upper legs, and buttocks. This rash starts as round red spots and begins to take on a lacy look. It can be itchy, especially in older children. This second stage lasts a week or less.
  3. After the body rash fades, it may come back if the person is out in the sun, gets too warm, or is under stress. This rash lasts 1 to 3 weeks. Even though a rash comes back, it does not mean your illness is worse.
ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerChristine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
Last RevisedMarch 15, 2011

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